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Don Lemon Tonight
January 6th Committee Expose Stunning E-mails And Text Messages; Trump Allies Felt Sorry For An Unsuccessful Plan; Allies And Trump Family Disturbed By The Riot; January 6th Riot A Pre-Planned Attack. Aired 10-11p ET
Aired December 13, 2021 - 22:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
MICHAEL SMERCONISH, CNN HOST (on camera): What were the foot soldiers told that they should do? I want to know. And the answer probably lies in the war room at the Willard Hotel, the night before. So, fly with that away, and we'll see what transpires.
Thank you so much for watching. I'll be back here tomorrow night. Don Lemon is in on the deck circle. Hey, don.
DON LEMON, CNN HOST: We got just one of reaction to your show. But I think that was a good one. Do you remember, Michael watching, I was watching that day going, is this, I watching what I'm watching? Like were weren't sure what was happening that day. We weren't sure for a moment if what was happening was actually happening.
And then all of a sudden, the core reality that there was an insurrection happening at our nation's capital, in front of our very eyes.
SMERCONISH: It's sort of like they said about September 11, it defied imagination. It's not something that you ever expected to see in the United States.
LEMON: Yes, you're right. And the details are pouring out. I'm going to get to it.
It's good to see you, Michael.
SMERCONISH: You, too.
LEMON: Great show. I'll see you tomorrow.
SMERCONISH: Thank you.
LEMON: This is DON LEMON TONIGHT.
And this is our breaking news. Michael to stocked about it, I'm going to talk about it more. As a matter of fact, I'm going to get into this. Criminal contempt, that's the breaking news. The committee investigating the attack on the capitol on January 6th votes to recommend criminal -- recommend contempt charges for Mark Meadows. But what they're saying tonight is really, it's stunning. You have to pay attention to this. We have never heard anything like it. The committee reading out Mark Meadows actual text as, violent Trump supporters ran riot at the United States Capitol on January 6.
You saw it, we all saw it. We know how bad it was. Look at that. At first, we're like this can't be happening, and then all the videos turning to be -- remember how you felt watching it, live as it happened. We were shocked. We were horrified. We all knew it was violent. We knew it was wrong. We knew it was un-Democratic, un- American.
Well, the host at the Fox propaganda network, this is the really stunning part, because they pretend like it was a big deal. My gosh, it was a tourist event. Even the president's namesake, the former president's namesake, son Donald Trump jr., he knew as well, despite what they pretend now, they knew. There is proof.
They knew it was a brutal attack on the United States -- our United States Capitol. They saw exactly what was happening. They begged Mark Meadows to get the then president to put a stop to it. Watch this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. LIZ CHENEY (R-WY): Multiple Fox News hosts knew that the president needed to act immediately. They texted Mr. Meadows, and he has turned over those texts. Quote, "Mark, the president needs to tell people in the capital to go home. This is hurting all of us. He is destroying his legacy," Laura Ingraham wrote.
"Please, get him on TV, destroying everything you have accomplished," Brian Kilmeade texted. Quote, "can he make a statement, ask people to leave the capital," Sean Hannity urged.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON (on camera): Texts -- boy! You can't write this stuff. Laura Ingraham, Brian Kilmeade, Sean Hannity. Laura Ingraham, Brian Kilmeade, Sean Hannity. That's the whole primetime lineup right there. They knew exactly what they were seeing with their own eyes. And they know now. They don't say they know. They pretend something else. But they knew.
They are lying. There is no other way to say it, they are just flat out lying. They are acting like nothing happened, that even the then president's own son knew the truth. Watch this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHENEY: As the violence continued, one of the president's sons texted Mr. Meadows. Quote, "he has got to condemn this shit ASAP. The capital police tweet is not enough," Donald Trump Jr. Texted. Meadows responded, quote, "I am pushing it hard. I agree."
Still, President Trump did not immediately act. Donald Trump Jr. Texted again and again, urging action by the president. Quote, "we need an Oval Office address. He has to lead now. It has gone too far, and gotten out of hand."
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON (on camera): He knew the truth. He knew it was no tourist visit, no peaceful protest. These were no patriots, don't give me that, these are not patriots. That's not what patriotism is. These are insurrectionists. A lot of them.
This wasn't antifa, it wasn't Black Lives Matter, -- we all knew the mob was doing that then president's bidding. They all knew that he could stop them, and he didn't. Lawmakers, in fear for their lives, texting Meadows, their former colleague, pleading for help.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHENEY: Members of Congress, the press and others, wrote to Mark Meadows as the attack was underway. One text Mr. Meadows received said, quote, "we are under siege here at the capitol." Another, quote, "they have breached the capitol." And a third, "Mark, protesters are literally storming the capitol, breaking windows and doors, rushing in. Is Trump going to say something?"
A fourth, "there is an armed standoff at the House chamber door." And another, from someone inside the capitol, "we are all helpless." Dozens of texts, including from Trump administration officials, urged immediate action by the president.
Quote, "POTUS has to come out firmly and tell the protesters to dissipate. Someone is going to get killed." In another, "Mark, he needs to stop this now." A third, in all caps, "tell them to go home." A fourth, and I quote, "POTUS needs to calm this shit down."
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON (on camera): Well, these texts absolutely chilling. An elected official texting Mark Meadows the day after, after the violent attack on our nation's capital. Watch this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA): The last message I want to highlight, again from a lawmaker in the aftermath of January 6. If we could queue graphic number 3. "Yesterday was a terrible day. We tried everything we could in our objection to the six states. I'm am sorry, nothing worked."
The day after a failed attempt to stop the peaceful transfer of power from a violence, an elected lawmaker tells the White House chief of staff, I am sorry, nothing worked. That is chilling!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON (on camera): It's chilling and disgusting! I'm sorry nothing worked? That's what you're sorry about? That the attack on our democracy did not work, that's what did not work?
Let us remember what this is all about. This is about an attempted coup, an attempt to overturn the results of a free and fair election, our free and fair election. An assault on democracy itself. And it is not over yet. The lies are still out there poisoning our country. Poisoning you, if you still believe them.
If you still believe that there was some sort of, something happened with the election, you have been poisoned, you've been lied to. You have been co-opted. You have been misled. The lies from the twice impeached one-term former insurrection inspiring president, the lies from his minions in Congress, and in the right-wing media has proven through the texts.
The lies that could take us down, if we left them. The most important question all of this is, what are we going to do about it? What are you going to do about it?
Gloria Borger is here, so as Jamie Gangel, and Laura Coates. Good evening to everyone. Thank you so much for joining.
Jamie, I'm going to start with you.
JAMIE GANGEL, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: Sure.
LEMON: We see these desperate text messages to Mark Meadows from lawmakers, from Donald Trump Jr., and from numerous Fox News hosts during the insurrection. We know Mark Meadows was with Donald Trump during the insurrection, and we knew Trump did next to nothing.
GANGEL: Right. So, today was a very bad day for Donald Trump, because what these text messages did was, they told the truth out of the mouths of Trump loyalists and friends. From his chief of staff, who is sitting right there with him, Republican members of Congress, Fox News hosts, Trump administration officials, and as you pointed out, his very own son, they all acknowledged what was happening.
Anyone who then or now denied the January 6th happened, it's over, Don. And today was just the tip of the iceberg. The committee, I am told by a source familiar with the text that there are hundreds of texts that are quote, "relevant and of interest to the committee along these lines."
LEMON: Yes. Gloria, I think Jaime is right. There is no -- I mean, obviously, here's the evidence. And I play, Gloria, the Congresswoman Liz Cheney, reading a text exchange between Donald Trump Jr. and Mark Meadows. Donald Trump Jr. texted this. He says they got -- "he's got to condemn this shit ASAP. The capitol police tweet is not enough."
Mark Meadows replied, "I'm pushing it hard. I agree." Liz Cheney pointed out that Donald Trump Jr. texted over and over and told Meadows we need an Oval Office address. He has to lead now, it has gone too far, it has gotten out of hand. I mean, even the president's own son knew what was going on. How bad
it was, and couldn't talk to his own father. Look, I don't care who is -- my mom was going to pick up for me. I think of my own -- my own parent is going to pick up the phone. He is -- he can't even get in touch with his dad to tell them what is screwed up job he was doing.
GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, this is a story worthy of succession, maybe. Maybe he didn't think he was going to pick up the phone, or maybe he didn't think he could get through to him, but the larger, you know, the larger story here is that Mark Meadows said I'm pushing. And he told that to Don Jr.
And yet, the president did nothing! Did nothing! And what does this committee trying to show, the committee is trying to show that the president not only was involved in the insurrection. But he supported the insurrection, did nothing about the insurrection. So, this shows that, if in fact Meadows was telling the truth to Don Jr., and he went to the president, and the president did nothing, you know, that kind of -- that kind of proves their point.
I mean, in all of these texts, as Jamie was saying, really prove their point. I mean, Laura Ingraham, I don't know if you haven't gotten to Laura Ingraham yet. But, you know, she says --
LEMON: Mark, the president needs to tell people in the capitol to go home. This is hurting all of us. He is destroying legacies.
BORGER: All of us.
BORGER: This is hurting all of us. So, if you are a fan of Laura Ingraham's and you believe her, and you are a fan of Sean Hannity, or Don Jr., do you now have to believe that they are double dealing in postures, who are publicly saying one thing this was no big deal.
Laura Ingraham came out and criticize the police officers, and that they're saying something different privately to Mark Meadows, that they knew, in fact, how dangerous this insurrection was and how damaging it is. So, you know.
LEMON: So, Gloria, they are saying behind closed doors in text messages what the rest of the media, right? The media who is not owned by Donald Trump is saying about the insurrection.
LEMON: This is awful. This is terrible for Republicans. This is terrible for our country. The president needs to stop it. But they won't say it publicly on the platform where they should be saying get, because they don't what, they're afraid of losing their viewers. They're afraid of people -- they're afraid of Donald Trump getting mad at them.
BORGER: Maybe. And they've woven an alternate narrative --
BORGER: -- which works for them. And they're going to -- they're going to stick to it despite this.
LEMON: And they were complicit in some way.
BORGER: Yes, absolutely.
LEMON: Yes, yes. Laura, here's what we heard from Representative Adam Kinzinger. This was just tonight. Watch this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. ADAM KINZINGER (R-IL): Mark Meadows has committed a crime, in this case, a premeditated one. He thought carefully about his actions and actively chose to stonewall, which you can clearly see it in his back and forth with the select committee.
First, he produced over 9,000 pages of documents from his time in the White House. Then, after his former boss made it clear his disappointment and displeasure, he did a 180. And he refused to answer even a single question from his former colleagues or even to show up at all.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON (on camera): So, Laura Coates, Kinzinger says that Meadows knows exactly what he is doing and it is criminal. Will the Justice Department move to prosecute him? What gives here?
LAURA COATES, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: I mean, listen. What we heard today forces the hands of three different groups. It forces the hands of members of Congress, and the full House to be able to vote and say, are we really going to allow not only the idea of Mark Meadows thumbing the nose, but there are people within our ranks who actually actively sought to conspire in this way, to try to overthrow the legitimate election, the fair and free one, and had ideas even after the insurrection.
He also forces the hand of the Department of Justice, because of course, one of the things are concerned with is trying to persuade the courts to be able to say, listen, this person had a validly authorized, duly issued subpoena from a member from people who are his previous colleagues.
He knows well about the power of congressional subpoenas, and we have interest and transparency here. He has already provided information. And by the way, Don, if these are the 9,000, sort of, e-mails that he wanted to hand over, imagine the rest of the iceberg that's below the surface right now that he now is saying, wait a second, maybe I shouldn't have given that.
[22:15:06] If you're already mad about that, Mr. President, you don't know what's behind door number two. And it was of course the head of the judiciary at this point in time. To say, listen, if you're going to balance the privilege assertions for executive privilege about the institution of the presidency, you always have to balance it again against the idea of transparency about issues of extraordinary national importance that are going to matter to the electorate and the American people.
The idea that you have people who are in cahoots to try to conspire to overthrow and attack the capitol. The idea of knowingly doing so. And remember, we talked this from day one, the idea that what you are seeing on January 6th was not the beginning of the story. It wasn't the end of the story. It was the middle.
So, what led up to it? It blows out of the water any assertion that somehow this is a partisan witch hunt all intended to just, you know, dredge up information that's not even there. There's there-there, and it comes from the mouths of members of Congress and some of the most staunch advocates for Donald Trump in the media today.
LEMON: What do you -- and Laura, what do you call that when, because it holds up in the court of law that people were taking what is a contemporaneous note at the time, these are -- is that -- these are along those lines, the text messages --
COATES: It's contemporaneous. It's called, well, it's contemporaneous. That's what you corroborate. I mean, you want to show some semblance of credibility. You're able to botch trust ability by saying, listen, you are all the other contextual things that were going on. It corroborates. It was close in time. There's no time to fabricate or change one's mind. You are saying it instantly.
It's kind of like would somebody say, of a dying declaration, and this is the person who shot me. Telling a medical officer or medical provider, here's what just happened to me. Trying to say, hey, was the light just turned green, that red car went through.
All of these are ways that you in the instant in the moment are saying things. Even down to a former director James Comey, taking notes on what he was observing and seeing, practically in real-time, there is not the issues of credibility any longer.
And this tells you, it reminds you, it tells you Don Jr. and the like, they thought they had cover for Mark Meadows.
COATES: They went out blasting all this as Gloria, and Jamie talked about, they thought they have covered it indefinitely. The jig is up and it ought to be.
BORGER: These are the receipts, that's the way I will put it. CPATES: Right.
LEMON: Yes, those are the receipts. And then afterwards, though, the lawmakers saying, I'm sorry, nothing worked. I mean, Jamie, Lord.
Thank you. I'm sorry, yesterday was a terrible day. We tried everything we could in our objection to the six states. I'm sorry, nothing worked. That's what they were sorry about. Jamie?
BORGER: You know, go to Jamie.
GANGEL: This to me, I want to say is there is a line in Liz Cheney's statement that I think speaks to where we are going next. And Laura can speak about the criminal part of it, but she says, did Donald Trump through action or inaction? Corruptly seek to obstruct or impede Congress's official proceedings.
GANGEL: So, I think that what we are going to see over and over when these hearings actually happen in public, is what did Trump not do?
LEMON: Do. Yes.
BORGER: And also, and also --
LEMON: I got -- it's got --
BORGER: -- what did members do? I mean, that text, I'm sorry that we couldn't decertify a free and fair election. I'd like to know who that member is.
LEMON: Yes. Thank you all. More to come, we're going to continue to talk about it. I appreciate it. I'll see you soon.
GANGEL: Thank you.
LEMON: So, guess who didn't air the hearing live tonight? The same people who knew what happened on January 6 was wrong and have lied about it ever since.
LEMON (on camera): So, these revelations are stunning tonight. What was happening inside the White House, as violent Trump supporting rioters stormed the United States capitol? There is proof now that they knew.
Congresswoman Liz Cheney revealing that even some of the then- president's staunchest allies, as Fox were, you know, begging for Mark Meadows to have Trump call of the rioters.
So, joining me now to discuss, CNN's chief media correspondent, Mr. Brian Stelter, and CNN political commentator, Ms. S.E. Cupp.
Good evening to both of you. I'm so glad to have you here.
Brian, I want to put this up. This is Laura Ingraham, what she texted, saying, quote, "Mark, the president needs to tell people in the capitol to go home. This is hurting all of us. He is destroying his legacy."
From Brian Kilmeade, "please get him on TV, destroying everything you have accomplished." And then Sean Hannity, quote, "can he make a statement, ask people to leave the capitol."
Look, I'm sorry, these are the presidents, the former president's staunchest apologists, his mouth pieces, I mean, flagrant spreaders of misinformation. And even they knew what was wrong that day. But you don't hear that anymore.
BRIAN STELTER, CNN CHIEF MEDIA CORRESPONDENT: Right. They said it privately. And Hannity was oddly casual that afternoon. I'm sorry, sir, I'm sorry for the inconvenience, can you please help the president speak. Like, come on, you're in the middle of an emergency, please help save the capitol! Right?
STELTER: It should've been an urgent tone. But Laura Ingraham was urgent. Brian Kilmeade was urgent. And this was just a little preview of what the committee has. I keep wondering what other text messages do -- do these lawmakers have from other Fox personalities, from other lawmakers that are going to tell us even more.
But it's no wonder why they were panicked. These Fox stars set the stage for the attempt.
LEMON: Well, let's play this.
STELTER: And they are the ones who promoted the big lie.
LEMON: Let's remember what Hannity and Laura were saying on the air that night at that time. The Washington Most made a mash-up. And I just want to -- we're reminding you that this is what actually happened in real-time. Here it is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEAN HANNITY, HOST, FOX NEWS: We also knew that there's always bad actors that will infiltrate large crowds.
LAURA INGRAHAM, FOX NEWS HOST: An overwhelming majority of them, 99, more than 99 percent had to be, were peaceful. But because of a small contingent of loons, these patriots have been unfairly maligned.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON (on camera): They were texting Mark Meadows one thing. And then privately making excuses for Trump on the air.
STELTER: Quickly, within a matter of hours, they were saying maybe this was antifa. It seems like liberal agitators were in the crowd. There was an immediate attempt to blame the left. And that has continued to this day, even as late as tonight. That is the narrative.
And ultimately, this is on the Murdoch's. This should be deeply embarrassing for Fox News. It's no wonder why journalists, most recently Chris Wallace, had decided to leave Fox News. He has been an exodus there for years. But the notion that people still take this network seriously, and act as if the content is reality based, well, these text messages should be another example that that is foolish.
LEMON: Look, that's your -- it's obvious to me that they had no shame. I mean, you are saying, it's on the Murdoch's, whatever --
STELTER: Right. I said it should be embarrassing, but maybe it's not.
LEMON: -- but the hosts. I don't know the Murdochs, but I know the hosts have no shame, because they were on air saying that, that night, and they were texting another thing. I mean, S.E., come on, what do you think of these text messages as you, as you read it and what they were saying on the air at the time?
S.E. CUPP, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: What is clear as day, Fox News viewers, you have been had. You have been told that the people you are watching we're telling you not only the truth, but what they believed in the heart of hearts. They believed it passionately.
And instead, what this reveal is what I've always known is that they are snake oil salesman. The number one question I get, Don, when I talk to people about what, quote on quote, "happened to the Republican Party," the number one question is, do these people really believe what they say? Does Sean Hannity really believe that? Does Don Jr. actually see that unhinged?
I have never believed for a second that these were people who had somehow forgotten everything they had always known and become true believers. I knew from the get-go they were selling, yes.
And that almost makes it worse. If you thought they were true believers, and actually believe that what happened on January 6th was righteous or even not as bad as it was, that might be better than knowing that they didn't think that.
They never believed in any of the things they were saying. But they kept peddling Trump's garbage to impressionable, rabid, and in some cases, violent and extremist viewers. To me, that is the very definition of selling your soul.
LEMON: And S.E., let's just, I mean, I want to put this, this is Don Jr. This is his son, S.E. Quote, "he's got to condemn the shit as soon as possible. I mean, the capitol police tweet is not enough." Listen, this is, you know, Twitter troll in the world, obviously, one
of the biggest supporters of his dad, he couldn't even get his own father on the phone, and how bad this is. And if you watch his, you know, what he says publicly today, you wouldn't believe that he was thinking such stuff.
CUPP: These people, up to the very family members of Trump were really putting on a performance. And you could see them sort of holding that performance over the course of both Trump's campaign, and then as president. They saw what people wanted. They saw what people were responding to, and they started dialing it up in those sorts of, in those sorts of ways.
And you know, you know, the correlation between what was happening with Trump and what was happening in Fox world, you know, it's very clear. And they were talking. I mean, I think it's wild and I haven't heard many people mention this, that journalists, quote, unquote, "journalists at Fox" thought they could call the chief of staff and tell him what to do.
I mean, that is -- that is a symbiotic relationship, to say the least. And again, this is the wizard of oz, the curtain has been pulled back.
CUPP: There are no journalists left, you know, for the most part at Fox, and it is no longer a journalism enterprise. It is entertainment and worse, propaganda.
LEMON: You read my mind, S.E. Because I was thinking, and Brian, it must be nice to be able to call the Oval, or text the person closest to the president, and say, he needs to get on, he needs to do this. Like, wow!
STELTER: It's funny I message (Inaudible) while on Twitter trying to book him for an interview, and he never replied. So, I guess I'm doing something wrong, Don. I guess -- I guess --
LEMON: Brian, let me play this. Let me play this, though. Because this is the Fox propaganda network, tearing down, attacking the January 6 committee. Watch this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BRIAN KILMEADE, HOST, FOX NEWS: If you look at the other channels, it's 45 minutes and an hour on January 6. That's all they got. Mark Meadows, what's going to happen? January 6, it's all they got. So, they don't even want to report any other things. So, it's not reporting by a mission.
HANNITY: There is a pre-determined outcome, and I think people like Liz Cheney, you know, why isn't Liz Cheney looking into the 500 plus riots that took place in cities all across the country in 2020?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON (on camera): This is an insurrection on the capitol. I mean -- what! Do they -- maybe they were so twisted that they don't realize like what actual journalism is, that they are supposed to be doing.
STELTER: Well, this is the kind of story that's actually getting bigger all the time.
LEMON: They didn't air it tonight. The hearing tonight.
STELTER: No, they did not air this hearing tonight, neither did Newsmax, neither did One America News.
STELTER: Sean Hannity interview Mark Meadows on the air, did not bring up the relationship. That -- but I think what we're getting at, Don, is there is a reason why this is all being shoved down the memory hall over at Fox. It's because it is so shameful. It's because this was a domestic terror attack.
STELTER: It's because our lawmakers were terrorized that day. And it's embarrassing for the country. And so, it's no wonder they're try to stop them in the memory hall. These men and women at Fox, they promoted the big lie. They helped cause this fire, and once it came out of control, they all of a sudden trying to call the file department to try to stop it.
STELTER: It's no wonder they're embarrassed by what they helped cause.
STELTER: If they're capable and there is a -- that's unknown --
CUPP: But you have to -- and Don, you just have to wonder where --
LEMON: So, S.E. --
CUPP: -- what else they were leaving.
LEMON: S.E., so we know all of this.
LEMON: Why? Why does Jen Psaki even continue to call in Fox in the briefing room? They very -- they've been very courteous and I should say, you know, kind. Because if your network is promoting B.S. and lies about what is actually happening in the country, and helping to inspire and inside an insurrection, why -- why should they even be able to take part in a legitimate press briefing, and legitimate journalism?
CUPP: Yes, it's so tough. Because there are reporters still at Fox. Very few, and very few getting air time. And the last little good one just left the building. And the problem with any good reporters left at Fox is that the primetime people contradict everything they say.
CUPP: So, you could report something like COVID is real, or the election wasn't stolen, but it's just going to be contradicted in prime time.
CUPP: And that just makes you wonder, what else are you being told as a Fox viewer, that these people don't even believe in stuff about COVID and vaccines, and mask mandates. They don't believe in any of that garbage that they are peddling, but they are pushing it anyway --
CUPP: -- because they don't have to believe it. They just want to sell it. And they don't care what happens to you, the viewer, or the country when you buy it.
LEMON: Same question, Brian, even though she makes a very good point, even though they have vaccine rules, and mask rules, and mandates at their own places of business. But why, the question about why did they even allow Fox to pretend in the briefing room like they are real news organization.
STELTER: Well, I think we'd say historically, you've got to keep his broad and opening in the press corps as possible, let as many voices as possible, you know, even letting cranks, and there's been a lot of cranks in the briefing room in the past, not Fox, but ran those that are able to come into the briefing.
I think historically that's been the approach. Let as many people as you can possibly fit in the room. But today at the briefing, what did Fox ask about? The Christmas tree being set ablaze? Which was awful last week. And I was really disturbed to see it. But no one takes us the top 10 story in America today, except the Fox News.
So, what we have to do I think, is recognized for what it is. And you've been documenting it, Don, we've been trying to document it. Fox has change dramatically. And these text messages tonight are more evidence that this media has changed dramatically.
STELTER: And we can't view it the way we did 10 years ago, where there's a bunch of channels, and one leans left and one leans right.
STELTER: No. One now leans so far from reality that it's imperil of the country.
LEMON: It's obvious they don't care about the truth. Anytime you see something on their air or you read something, like it's Fox, well, you know, you got to take it with a grain of salt.
STELTER: Merry Christmas.
LEMON: Thank you very much. I appreciate it. Thank you. It's good to see you, S.E. Merry Christmas if I don't see. I hope I'll see you later on this week.
LEMON: All right. Another major bombshell, Mark Meadows sending an e- mail saying the National Guard would protect pro-Trump people on January 6th. Said the White House, no. There might be chaos.
LEMON (on camera): The January 6th committee releasing a report on Mark Meadows' actions before and during the insurrection including an e-mail Meadows sent to one individual saying the National Guard would be present to, and I quote, "protect pro-Trump people on January 6."
I want to discuss this information now with Donell Harvin, the former head of intelligence for the Washington, D.C. Homeland Security Department. Donell Harvin, thank you so much. I appreciate you joining us, sir.
DONELL HARVIN, SENIOR POLICY RESEARCHER, RAND CORPORATION: Thank you for having me, Don.
LEMON: So, Mark Meadows sends an e-mail, saying that the National Guard would protect pro-Trump people. Does this imply the White House knew there could be violence?
HARVIN: Well, if this is accurate, and I really hope it's not, then it really does speak to something that we've never seen before in the history of our country. And that's the politicization of the military. Even more so that the fact of the matter is that one side of the federal government was anticipating violence, where the other side of the federal government wasn't planning for it.
And so, that's particularly worrisome. And so, there is a lot of things that we are seeing with the January 6 commission. It seems, Don, that every stone they turn over, something crawls out from underneath it. And so, we are learning more and more about it, certainly it wasn't coordinated with the District of Columbia. And we are just learning about this ourselves this week. [22:40:02]
LEMON: As head of intelligence at D.C.'s homeland security office, you are seeing giant red flags ahead of the insurrection. What were you seeing and who were you sounding the alarm too, sir?
HARVIN: Well, we were seeing really worrisome trends. We saw a spike in what, you know, the lay people would call chatter, that's from an intelligence standpoint, a lot of interest in attending a particular event. But not just interest in coming to participating peaceful first amendment activities.
We were seeing far-right extremists talking about hiding weapons, bringing long guns, and sharing plans to enter the capitol and things of that type of nature. But we also saw a group that historically don't talk with each other online, far-right wing, right nationalist type of groups, armed militia, white supremacist, even neo-Nazis.
I think the untold story behind this, Don, is really the rise of the conspiracy theory movement. Because they've come and penetrated these groups in a way that we've never seen before and they've gone mainstream. And we share this information with all of our federal partners, as well as local partners. And some people prepared with that information, and obviously as the January 6 commission is looking at, some people didn't.
LEMON: What can you tell us, sir, about your conversations with the January 6 committee.
HARVIN: Well, I'll tell you that I don't want to get ahead of them. They clearly doing a great job. What I can tell you is that I've had two conversations with them. One conversation really focusing on January 6th, and really getting to the nuts and bolts of what we knew from an intelligence standpoint, and what we shared that -- and who we share that information with. Much like you are asking here.
And then another conversation, which I thought was really eye-opening. And I think your viewers should appreciate, is the fact that they are looking prospectively. And so, not just what happened almost a year ago, but what we can do now to change a really concerning trend.
Understand that January 6th is a point on a timeline, Don. It didn't begin a movement and it didn't -- it didn't start or end with a movement. And so, if you look at it holistically there's a lot of concerning, as you mentioned earlier, signs that the ideology that existed on January 6th is still out there.
The enablers of what occurred on that day is still out there and we should really be concerned, particularly with the conspiracy theory some of these armed militia that are still out there and potentially plotting.
LEMON: Donell Harvin, we're so happy that you could come on. We know that there's -- you can't tell us everything, but we think that you've illuminated or viewers and we've learned a lot. Thank you, sir. I appreciate it. HARVIN: Thank you.
LEMON: All of these new bombshells, from the January 6 committee about the capitol riot, and what are we hearing from top Republicans? That's it. Crickets.
LEMON (on camera): The January 6 committee voting to hold Mark Meadows in contempt. But what do the new revelations mean for the people to hold people, for the effort, I should say, to hold people accountable?
Joining me now to discuss, CNN senior political analyst, Kirsten Powers, and Stuart Stevens, the former chief strategist for the Romney presidential campaign. Good evening to you both.
Kirsten, Chairman Thompson saying tonight that our democracy was inches from ruin. Look, I respect the chairman, that was an understatement, right? I think it was just fractions from seconds away. And with all these texts and these e-mails we are getting a clearer picture of how panicked even Trump allies and mouthpieces were. This is incredibly damning evidence, no?
KIRSTEN POWERS, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, of course it is. And I think that the thing is for, you know, for everybody who was watching this and was horrified, and then had to go through this period of listening to all of the president's supporters and enablers say, the hysterical, you know, mainstream media, and the hysterical Democrats and everybody, there's nothing to see here. It's not that big of a deal.
To find out that they were actually having the exact same reaction. Right? Like, the exact same reaction that everybody else was having. And then how quickly they just could turn on a dime, because basically, these texts and these e-mails show what they believe was happening, which is whatever -- we said was happening, right?
It's what everyone else said it was happening. And then how quickly they could just change what they believe, and what they would say because Donald Trump told them no, that's not what we're going to say happened.
POWERS: I mean, that is scary.
LEMON: And Stuart --
POWERS: That, I mean, I find that really scary.
LEMON: It is. I mean, Stuart, you're saying pretty much the same thing that all these new details show why so few Republicans voted to have the January 6 commission in the first place. They were afraid of how bad this looks.
STUART STEVENS, FORMER CHIEF STRATEGIST, ROMNEY PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN: Yes. Look, I don't understand how Mark Meadows doesn't face criminal charges here, not for not testifying in front of Congress but for what he has done. I don't understand how you are an elected official, an American, but say an elected official, and you see or hear about a power plot or PowerPoint that details how to end the peaceful transition of democracy in America and you don't sound an alarm?
I mean, I don't know what are the base test to failures on a moral level, on a governing level. Why does the Republican Party exist if it can't fight a conspiracy in its own ranks to end democracy? It's really, it's hard to wrap your mind around it.
And everybody who thinks that Mitch McConnell didn't know about this I think is incredibly naive. Of course, he knew. It was shown to his senators. He knew that this might happen and he did nothing. And he failed to convict Trump even though he knew that he was at the rule of it.
LEMON: Stuart and Kirsten, I want to talk more. Stick around, I'm going to -- we'll come right back right after this break. Don't go anywhere.
LEMON (on camera): I'm back now with Kirsten and Stuart. So, Kirsten, so many Republicans who broke up, you know, broke with Trump over the insurrection backed by his side within a matter of weeks, some within a matter of days. Can the country have the reckoning on the threat to our democracy if one party is committed to complete denial?
POWERS: No. No, and that's what I'm saying. That's what's so scary about this. Is that it would be one thing if people actually saw it the way they see it. That they are seeing it, right? If that was just, I mean, that would be problematic enough.
But the fact that we know that they saw what was happening, and that they are willing to just go along with what Donald Trump says even though it's completely contrary to what they themselves saw and what they said they saw.
It's like a combination of like the mafia and a cult or something. You know, it's not -- this is just anything Donald Trump tells them they'll do. And it doesn't matter if it's he is saying the sky is yellow, like, they're going to do it.
And so, I think that this is one of the things where it is just, it's very frightening. It's very frightening to watch this. It's very frightening even to hear the types of things that we hear. You know, the last segment, actually talking about using, you know, the U.S. the National Guard only to protect, you know, -- LEMON: Trump supporters.
POWERS: -- pro-Trump people.
POWERS: I mean, what?
LEMON: Stuart, I'll give you --
LEMON: -- I have a few seconds, I'll give you the last word on this. Where do we go from here? What are these text messages reveal to you?
STEVENS: Well, Look, I think we had a doomsday clock for how close we were to a nuclear war. I think we have a doomsday clock ticking for democracy here. You know, in South Africa they have truth and reconciliation.
The Republican Party doesn't want truth. They say they want reconciliation and should move on, but you can't have it. And this is just a reckoning now, and I think it's shown a complete collapse of the Republican Party as any sort of moral and governing force in America.
LEMON: Yes. Thank you both. Be well. I'll talk to you soon.
The committee investigating January 6 voting to recommend contempt charges for Mark Meadows and revealing a whole lot of damning new texts about what happened that day. We're going to go through them, next.